Speech by Hon Nomhle Dambuza during the debate on Report of Adhoc Committee to Exercise Co-Ordinated Oversight on the legacy of the Native Land Act of 1913
29 October 2013
Topic: What are development support mechanisms put in place by the ANC government to support the beneficiaries of land reform programme?
On the 19 June 2013, South Africa commemorated the brutal 1913 Land Act. This marked 100th year since the Act was promulgated. This piece of legislation, which aimed to regulate and severely restrict the acquisition of land by Africans, had far-reaching socio-economic and political consequences, much of which are still being felt today.
This Act not only sought to severely circumscribe African ownership of, and access to land, its intent was also to meet the rising demand for cheap labour. It did so by targeting African sharecroppers and tenant farmers, stripping them of their independence as farmers and stock owners and changing them into farm labourers and servants. The law marked a critical turning point for South Africa, because (despite the fact that many of its provisions were not implemented for some years), the Act, together with subsequent legislation such as the Native Trust and Land Act, no. 18 of 1936 laid the foundation for the implementation of the racially-based spatial schemes and forced removals which took place during the apartheid era.
Inspired by the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme, the 52nd National Conference of the ANC in 2007, decided that rural development and land reform should rank amongst the top 5 national priorities. It recognized that the 1913 Natives Land Act had left lasting scars on rural communities; a painful legacy that as part of addressing the national question must be reversed. The Freedom Charter stated there shall be houses, security and comfort! All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed and to bring up their families in comfort and security, unused housing space to be made available to the people. Rent and prices shall be lowered, slums shall be demolished and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, light, playing fields, crèches and social centers.
The lack of security in tenure, as a direct consequence of the Land Act, resulted in former African tenants being unable to erect substantial dwellings capable of providing adequate shelter to protect them from severe weather conditions. Instead, as farm labourers, they were condemned to run-down and often unsafe dwellings, which had a marked impact on their health. Another hardship brought about by the Act, was that children of former tenants were deprived of any level of education, due to the unwillingness of farmers to grant permission to erect schools on their land.
It is important to note that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has contributed to the increased number of households with access to sanitation by 10%, 10,45% access to electricity, 4% accesses to clean water, distributed 39 331 rainwater harvesting tanks and constructed 37 km of water pipeline in North West.
Bulk water and sanitation infrastructure have been constructed in KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and North West. Rain water harvesting tanks have been distributed throughout CRDP sites.
Our current government has embarked on the programme of acquiring suitable land for human settlements development. The land is purchased, housing development takes place, and people are afforded an opportunity of ownership to property.
Apart from the racial dimension to urbanisation and settlement patterns, other factors also contributed to the increasing demand for housing, especially within urban areas. The population growth, rising costs of material and labour and the shortage of available land within commuting distance of city centres, undermine the necessity to develop other forms of tenure that were not based on single title, and individual ownership.
It is important to note that, the sites that were set aside for the townships were often ill-chosen, generally not far from the town sanitary tip, the refuse dump, and slaughter poles and next to sewage farms. All these segregated townships, which became prominent features of the South African landscape, had no policy or systems for development or improvement. Those persons who were allowed to stay in the city as labourers were accommodated in “dormitory townships” on the outskirts of the city. As a spokesperson from the Ministry of Native Affairs pointed out that: "Only Black Africans’ hands were needed at work and that if some mysterious arrangement could be devised whereby their hands could be daily brought to town for purposes of labour, and their persons and faces not seen at all, [it would] suit [the] White masters”.
In repose that, the current ANC government has brought about transformation of dormitory townships. The government has developed progressive policies that are geared towards restoring the dignity of our people. The department of human settlements’ policy of Community Residential Unit (CRUs) is aimed at transforming former hostels in many of our townships across the country into family units. These are dignified structures that are suitably transformed and many families continue to derive a sense of comfort by living as households in these kinds of structures.
There was a conscious policy not to build low-income houses in order to both discourage urbanisation of Africans, and to prevent any form of inter-racial mixing. The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act (No.52 of 1951) as amended in 1989, aimed to establish designated site and service schemes on the periphery of metropolitan areas to prevent squatting in unsuitable locations. However, with the removal of the pass laws, many people living on the periphery of urban areas began to move closer towards the centre. It allowed people to be near work and other economic opportunities, as well as gain improved access to amenities and services. While the vast majority of the Black urban population remained in overcrowded conditions in the townships, many began to squat on vacant land within the former `White` urban areas. Rural areas have been divided into underdeveloped Bantustans and well-developed white-owned commercial farming areas. Towns and cities have been divided into townships without basic infrastructure for blacks and well-resourced suburbs for whites.
The rapid growth in informal settlements around urban centres was highlighted in statistics from 1980. The statistics revealed that almost 5.2 million South Africans were already living in informal settlements, with forecasts of an annual population growth rate of 2.5%. A report released by the South African Cities Network revealed that as much as a quarter of South Africa`s households could be classified as informal in nature.
President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma in his state of the Nations Address acknowledges that “Apartheid spatial patterns still persist in our towns and cities. South Africa needs to develop a national integrated urban development framework to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation. Apartheid planning confined the majority of South Africans to places far away from work, where services could not be sustained, and where it was difficult to access the benefits of society and participate in the economy.
Since 1994, much progress has been made particularly within the Human Settlements fraternity. ANC led government has managed to promulgate a number of progressive policies that are serving as guiding-lines in making sure that the lives of all South Africans are improved. Furthermore, this government has taken a center stage in the fighting of the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Through human settlements programmes, the majority of the people have benefited and their lives have been improved for the better. However, much still needs to be done.
In South Africa cohesive and sustainable human settlements can be conceptualized within the context of the provisions and the mandate of South African constitution (1996 as amended) and the Housing Act (1997).
As part of its foundation, the Constitution of South Africa draws attention to the values of Human Dignity, the achievement of equal and the advancement of human rights and freedom. Therefore, the mainstay of the department of human settlements is to address these values through its legislation, policies, and programmes.
Sustainable human settlements is also influenced by a broad range of policies and legislations, such as
- Housing Act, Act No.107, 1997,
- Social Housing Regulatory Authority Act,
- Housing Development Agency Act (2008)
- Rental Housing Act, Act No. 50, 1999 & Rental Housing Amendment Act No. 43 of 2007,
- Breaking New Ground – Comprehensive Plan for Housing Delivery (2004),
- National Housing Code (2009 as amended)
- Governments; 12 Outcomes, particularly Outcome 8
- National Upgrading of Informal Settlements (NUSP)
- Land Acquisition for Sustainable Settlements, July 2008,
- Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act from and Unlawful Occupation of Land (1998 as amended)
- Housing Development Agency Act, Act No. 23 of 2008.
Cabinet approved the Comprehensive Integrated Housing Plan (CIHP) for the Development of Integrated Sustainable Human Settlements (Breaking New Ground [BNG]) that aims, among other things, to eradicate informal settlements in South Africa in the shortest possible time.
The BNG incorporates principles such as:
- integrating subsidised, rental and bonded housing
- providing municipal engineering services at a higher level and being applied consistently throughout the township
- providing ancillary facilities such as schools clinics and commercial opportunities
- combining different housing densities and types, ranging from single-stand units to double-storey units and row houses.
The plan also aims to change spatial settlement patterns by building spatially economical and socially integrated human settlements. The CHP is being implemented through informal settlement-upgrading pilot projects in each province. These projects provide for phased, area-based development, and emphasise community participation and social and economic development as an integral part of housing projects. The goal of upgrading all informal settlements by 2014/15 is aligned to the United Nation`s (UN) millennium development goals (MDGs) to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers worldwide.
Creation of sustainable job opportunities to our people is central in the government’s objectives. Through various programmes, the department of human settlements has opened opportunities for the creation of jobs
It will be in the interest of the nation to point out that a further 9 977 households benefitted through the Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme (EEDBS) and have secured ownership of the housing stock they have been occupying for years.
We should acknowledge the immense contribution made the Housing Development Agency (HDA) which is mandated to identifying and sourcing the well suitable land for human settlements development. During the 2012/13 financial year, the HDA has surpassed its delivery targets to acquiring 6 250 ha of land for human settlements development. Land is a scarce commodity in the country. As the ANC led government, we have made a significant progress in acquiring suitable land for human settlements development.
The 2013 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations covered various programmes of the DHS, which scan be outlined as follows: The amount of R27,38 billion was allocated to Housing Development Finance, which included the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG), Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG), Rural Households Infrastructure Development Grant (RHIG) and departmental agencies for the year 2013/14.Out of this total the Human Settlements Development Grant was allocated R16.98 billion
A National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) has been established and the budget allocation for 2013/14 is R97 million. NUSP Structures have been established in all 9 Provinces in order to facilitate alignment with relevant municipalities. 49 municipalities have been identified for technical support through the NUSP programme (it is estimated that approximately 70% of all informally settled households in SA reside in these 49 municipalities).
Progress in Outcome 8 – it has been noticed that there are 192 253 formal housing units have been allocated to 255 628 households during 2012 to date and that represents 63% 400 000 units of 2014 target. RHIG performance – it was noticed that as from March 2010 to March 2013 there were 131 municipalities benefited from the grant. Furthermore, a total of 63 118 toilets were completed to date. During the 2012/13 financial year, 27,377 houses were served with proper sanitation, this represents 63% of the delivery targets of 400 000 by 2015.
In 2012, Parliament passed the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, administered by Rural Development, to address past spatial and regulatory imbalances. SPLUMA plays a critical role in the planning of human settlements. It also to provide for the inclusive, developmental, equitable and efficient spatial planning at the different spheres of government; to provide a framework for the monitoring, coordination and review of the spatial planning and land use management system; to provide a framework for policies, principles, norms and standards for spatial development planning and land use management;
The National Development Plan (NDP) by the National Planning Commission asserts that, reshaping South Africa’s cities, towns and rural settlements is a complex, long-term project, requiring major reforms and political will. It is, however, a necessary project given the enormous social, environmental and financial costs imposed by existing spatial divides. The Commission proposes a national focus on spatial transformation across all geographic scales. Policies, plans and instruments are needed to reduce travel distances and costs, especially for poor households. By 2030, a larger proportion of the population should live closer to places of work, and the transport they use to commute should be safe, reliable and energy efficient
Agri-villages have got a huge potential to contribute to sustainable human settlements in our communities. There are a number of them that we have come across in our oversight visits across the country. We need to encourage support the establishment of more such villages. The Department of Economic Development plays a critical role in the empowerment of these communities.
In conclusion, the land question is a very crucial issue for the development of any nation. It is therefore, important to note that South Africa has given priority to the transformation of land ownership. Through collaborative efforts with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, one of the progressive legislation has been passed Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA). The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs also plays a critical role in implementation of SPLUMA. Therefore, working cooperatively by these departments will accomplish the vision of the African National Congress and that of government of bringing better life for all a reality.
President Jacob Zuma has endorsed that the process of land claims be re-opened. It is therefore very important for all citizens to rally behind the programmes of Rural Development and Land Reform. Let us work with government in our quest to making South Africa work.
I thank you